Contours of Descent.

Position:Book Review

Contours of Descent


By Robert Pollin

[pounds sterling]9.99 Verso

ISBN 1-84467-543-3

This book, the author tells us, began its incubation as a conference paper for the January 2000 Allied Social Science Association meeting. This meeting was set to address the reality behind the 1990s US economic 'boom' under President Clinton. It aimed to examine the situation in which traditional left-of-centre political parties were reaching power in North America and Europe but, once in power, were pursuing a policy agenda that was more consonant with the centre-right.

Clinton himself termed this policy approach the 'third way'. The 'first way' approach, in Clinton's view, was committed to free markets and big business, while the 'second way' referred to the remaining legacy of 'big government'--like Roosevelt's 'New Deal' or more recently, Johnson's 'Great Society'.

Pollin's paper was first published in the New Left Review and subsequently, in somewhat different form, in The Economics of the Third Way: Experiences from around the World. His analysis of Clinton's economic record includes a brief look at that administration's foreign aid and economic growth policies for Africa and the developing world.

Pollin writes: "We see that the relentless spread of sweatshops is not the only way to create jobs in developing countries." He then explores the broader economic malaise in the less developed countries associated with...

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